Baltimore Comprehensive Communities Program -- Baltimore, MD
Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy: None.
Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Years of Operation:
Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy: None.
Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Years of Operation:
In 1991, the problem of gun violence, drugs, and crime had reached crisis levels in many Baltimore neighborhoods. The Boyd Booth area, for example, had one of the largest open-air drug markets and accounted for many of the city's homicides. The residential population was dwindling, and entire blocks of homes had been abandoned by their owners, had fallen into disrepair, and had been appropriated by drug dealers and addicts.
Comprehensive Communities Program
By the spring of 1995, the Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice had received a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to become 1 of 16 national sites participating in the Comprehensive Communities Program (CCP). The work being done by CLC and CPHA was well known, and the mayor's office asked the groups to expand and implement Baltimore's CCP initiative in several core communities: Boyd Booth, Carrollton Ridge, Fayette Street, Franklin Square, Harlem Park, and New Southwest. Dozens of other areas were identified as apprentice sites that would receive more limited assistance (e.g., training and the services of a pro bono attorney) to develop their own comprehensive crime prevention strategies.
The first-year planning grant allowed the partners to establish a solid foundation for the initiative by recruiting and training local leadership, working with residents to identify priority problems, mapping out strategies, and establishing relationships with key groups such as law enforcement and nearby schools. The nonprofit Neighborhood Design Center was brought on as a partner to help residents reduce drug dealing and other criminal activities by changing the physical environment. The center's approach, entitled Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), encourages residents to reclaim public spaces such as parks and playgrounds that have been taken over by drug dealers, prostitutes, and others because they are poorly maintained or are not used by law-abiding citizens. Typical CPTED activities include the establishment of community gardens on vacant lots or staking "ownership" of street corners by having vigils.
Full implementation of Baltimore's CCP initiative began in 1995. Implementation funding was provided not only through a Bureau of Justice Assistance discretionary grant, but also through grants from the Merck Foundation, the Abell Foundation, two Federal block grant programs (Byrne Memorial Block Grant Funds and Local Law Enforcement Block Grants), and in-kind contributions from the city's Department of Public Works and the police. The CCP initiative has a number of critical program elements, which follow.
Community-based anticrime strategies
CCP sites use six strategies to reduce crime in target areas:
By the end of 1996, dramatic decreases in crime were being reported in CCP areas. In Boyd Booth, the pilot site, violent crimes were reduced by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 1996. There also was evidence of increased law enforcement activity: the number of arrests doubled or tripled in many core communities during that same period.
In March 1997, in large part because of the success of the CCP effort, the Governor of Maryland launched the HotSpot Communities (HSC) Initiative as the next generation of community-based crime prevention. HSC incorporated all the main features of CCP and added several others. HSC sites had to include the following core elements:
In addition, HSC areas could adopt six enhancing elements: community prosecution, juvenile intervention, CPTED measures, victim outreach and assistance, community support for addiction recovery, or housing and business revitalization.
The Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention, which partially funds the CCP/HSC program, invited every county and municipality in the State to apply for HSC funding. Two criteria were used to select the 36 communities that are now part of HSC: a concentration of fear and crime, based on police statistics for the targeted areas, and a community with a core group of committed residents and the capacity to launch and sustain the effort. Six hotspot communities were designated in the city of Baltimore, including several CCP sites.
The six hotspot communities in Baltimore are coordinated by The Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice. An Oversight Committee comprising agency heads and high-level representatives of all the institutions involved in HSC (i.e., the Department of Public Works, the Police Commissioner, and the Department of Parole and Probation) is responsible for overall program monitoring. A Sustainment/Evaluation Committee, composed of all the members of the Supervisory Teams discussed below, assesses the effectiveness of CCP/HSC programs and continually reviews and modifies goals and objectives.
A Supervisory Team, including senior staff from each of the agencies directly involved in HSC activities, meets quarterly and "creates a forum where the policies and goals of each agency, nonprofit, and service provider are integrated with the strategy in each area targeted for programming." The Supervisory Team is composed of work groups that focus on the core HSC elements: community policing/community probation, community organizing, legal issues, community maintenance, and youth.
Finally, Neighborhood Safety Teams established in each of the HSC areas meet at least monthly to make specific decisions affecting communities. For example, Neighborhood Safety Teams decide which corners or streets will be targeted by community policing patrols, which houses should be the focus of a Drug Nuisance Abatement case, and what kinds of programs should be developed for youth to keep them free of drugs and crime. Each Neighborhood Safety Team has a community organizer, a police officer, a parole/probation agent, a community attorney, one or more community residents, and other representatives as needed.
The progression from the Comprehensive Communities Program to HotSpots represents the realization that long-term community change requires a systemwide approach. The work of separate agencies -- arresting lawbreakers, prosecuting criminals, cleaning up neighborhoods, monitoring probationers -- should coalesce under the single goal of creating a safe community. The police department must work with parole and probation officers to target career criminals, the housing department must work with the State's Attorney to prosecute absentee slumlords, and all agencies must work with the community residents -- who know best what their problems are and how to solve them.
The philosophy of comprehensiveness has influenced the way CCP/HSC is funded and managed. The $10.5 million that funds the statewide, 3-year initiative comes from many sources, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Byrne Memorial Block Grants and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. However, HSC sites do not submit separate applications for each part of the funding mosaic that is relevant to their work, nor do they have to prepare separate progress and evaluation reports to meet the varying requirements of the funding agencies. Instead, The Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention has developed a unified reporting form for HSC sites, which disaggregates the information provided by the target communities and presents relevant data to the array of funders. The Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention also has changed its own internal operations in response to this initiative.
The goal of CCP/HSC is institutionalization of its work. The group has established partnerships with 24 Federal, State, and local agencies, and it is hoped that the activities initiated under this special funding project will become part of the core functions of the participating groups. There is some evidence that this has begun to take place. For example, the Baltimore Police Department has implemented a system for the exchange of intelligence between the community foot patrol officers and members of other specialized units, and each now supports the work of the other. The State's Attorney's Office established the Firearms Investigation/Violence Division in 1997 to allow for vertical prosecution of cases involving nonfatal shootings where the defendant had a history of firearm violence and handgun violations. Individuals from HSC's are one of the offender groups being targeted through this division. In addition, the division targets individuals who are eligible for DISARM, a project of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland (see profile 36).
Law enforcement activities in CCP/HSC sites also are coordinated through Baltimore's Violent Crimes Division and its Youth Violence Strike Force (see profile 18). The two law enforcement programs work to reduce firearm-related offenses and may target specific individuals (such as gang members), geographic areas (high-crime corners and other hotspots), crimes (drug-related shootings), or weapons. Representatives from probation and parole departments, the courts, school police forces, and each of HSC's Neighborhood Safety Teams serve as liaisons to the Violent Crimes Division and the Youth Violence Strike Force, helping them to determine enforcement priorities.
Another CCP/HSC partner is the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which has supported the work of CCP/HSC by tripling the number of code violations issued by housing inspectors to close down buildings suspected of drug or gang activity. The Mayor also has established nine Neighborhood Service Centers (one in each police district) as a way to bring city services to the local level and make them more responsive to neighborhood needs. The Neighborhood Service Centers contain branch offices of all city government agencies -- from housing and health inspectors, to human service workers, to business assistance coordinators. Two public elementary schools and a local recreation center also are CCP/HSC partners, providing youth programs in some of the targeted neighborhoods.
Maryland's Department of Parole and Probation and the Department of Juvenile Justice have hired several parole and probation officers to target medium- and high-risk offenders in CCP/HSC neighborhoods, and the Federal Probation Office also has assigned one agent to each site. Among the initiative's 10 nonprofit partners is Bon Secours Hospital, the largest employer in one of the CCP/HSC communities. The hospital has played an important role in economic and housing development first building a multimillion-dollar Community Support Center for local families and then launching a housing development initiative to renovate many vacant homes in the area.
Evaluation data on CCP/HSC is being collected in several ways. The Mayor's Coordinating Council for Criminal Justice is conducting an internal evaluation, which will provide process and outcome data on improvements in physical conditions, youth programs and services, community attitudes, and changes in community capacity. In addition, BOTEC is conducting a process evaluation for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the University of Maryland and the Urban Institute are collecting and analyzing data on crime, violence, and drug dealing in the targeted areas, to include analysis of displacement of crime. These evaluation reports will be available in 1999.